I’ll start with the good news because there isn’t a whole lot of it. There will be no special session. The Legislature did its work and passed a balanced budget.
Now we’ll go to the bad news because there is a lot of it. The budget that was passed does not contain any serious cuts to the bloated state government. The budget also contains the funding mechanism for Medicaid expansion if a future governor wants it. Finally, the budget contains over $900 million in tax increases on everyone from businesses to smokers.
Here is the details:
- The budget cut $700 million on paper. However, the “cuts” were mostly to baselines and Katrina and oil spill related funds that should’ve been ended anyway. Don’t kid yourself, nothing was actually cut. Many of the “cuts” were just a freeze of last year’s budget.
- The business utility sales tax exemption was cut by 25%.
- The cigarette tax was increased $0.50 and vaping products were included.
- Most exemptions and credits were whacked 20% across the board.
- Corporate tax incentives were whacked 28% across the board.
- Car titles will go up from $18 to $68.
- There were tax increases dealing with out of state taxes and corporate tax credits.
- As a small consolation, all the tax hikes, except for the cigarette tax hike, will sunset after 3 years.
The SAVE Act was passed after a fight on the House floor. One of the “highlights” of the fight was when State Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge) tried to filibuster the bill by talking about astrology. This seemed to infuriate the House and they moved to pass it.
The Democrats then tried other tactics to try and run the time out and force a special session. The plan was to lay the blame on Republicans for running a dysfunctional government heading into this fall’s elections. However, the Democrats chickened out and the tax increases were enacted.
The only consolation conservatives can take from the session is that it’s finally over. Over the next week or so, we will continue to analyze the session and break down what all happened and what it means to you.